Esther Olatunde - AI's Role in Evolving Software Engineering Practices

EP-166 | April 16, 2024 | 47:39

In this captivating episode of the Maintainable Software Podcast, host Robby Russell delves deep with Esther Olatunde, Senior Product Engineer at Intercom, into the realms of software maintenance, technical debt, and the impact of AI on software development. The discussion kicks off with Esther's insights on what constitutes well-maintained software, emphasizing the importance of quality from both the user's and developer's perspectives. They explore how ease of onboarding for new developers and the ability to swiftly navigate codebases significantly contribute to a project's maintainability.

The conversation then shifts towards the nuances of managing technical debt, with Esther sharing her evolved understanding of the term over her career. From her early days in startups to her current role at Intercom, she provides a rich perspective on the challenges and strategies for advocating maintenance work within diverse organizational sizes. This episode takes an intriguing turn as Robby and Esther speculate on the future of software engineering in the age of AI, pondering how tools like GitHub Copilot could redefine the developer's role.

Robby probes into the potential of AI in accelerating development processes and the implications for software quality and team dynamics. They also touch upon the critical aspect of advocating for maintenance tasks to non-developers, underscoring the long-term benefits over immediate functionality gains. The episode is peppered with practical advice for engineers at all levels, encouraging them to persistently champion the cause of addressing technical debt for healthier codebases.

As a bonus, Esther recommends a non-technical yet profoundly relevant book, "Built" by Tony Fadell, which offers insights into product development and innovation, further enriching the discussion with broader perspectives on creating meaningful and lasting technology. Dive into this episode for a thorough exploration of the intricacies of software maintenance, the evolving landscape of software development, and how to navigate the challenges of technical debt, all through the lens of an experienced software engineer at the forefront of the industry.

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